Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Orion Files: 1992-1994

The majority of the films the studio put out from 1992 to 1994 were films that had been delayed, mostly from 1991. Lots to cover here, though little in the way of quality. In other words, this will be a quickie.

1992

First off is this poorly reviewed comedy/drama about doctors rebelling against the way war veterans are being treated at a VA hospital. It wants very much to be a Mash for the 90's. It isn't.

Woody Allen's last film for Orion is this black and white comedy that is a tribute to German Expressionist films as well as the works of Franz Kafka. Sporting the usual great cast, this got mediocre reviews and was the last film before Allen's reputation became tarnished by scandal.

From March of 1992, we go right to the end of the year with this drama about life in 1963 right after the JFK assassination. Michelle Pfeiffer scored a Best Actress nomination for this one, funnily enough the studio still managed to get some acclaim, even in bankruptcy.

1993

Initially meant for a 1991 release (as are most of the films in this post), this is a poorly received film about three married couples and their issues.

Not one of George Romero's best films but this Stephen King adaptation is still a pretty solid flick. Timothy Hutton plays an author who kills off his pseudonym that brought him great success, only for the guy to become real and start stalking him. The film is a quite faithful adaptation of the novel and there are some nice f/x bits here and there. I kind of like Needful Things (the other 1993 King adaptation that got a big release which we'll hit when I do New Line) better but this one is just fine with god work from Hutton in the dual role and Michael Rooker as a local sheriff. It is also the last good film you will read about in this post... That I have seen at least.

Comedy drama about two cons who kidnap a kid and the ensuing adventures that follow. It sounds sort of like a reworking of a flick called Cohen and Tate that Hemdale put out in 1989.

Amazingly enough, this manages to be worse than the second film. Robocop is back, (belatedly as this was supposed to be the studio's big summer of 1992 release) this time in a stripped down and kid friendly version (there is even a precocious kid sidekick in this one which I suppose is a step up from the killer kid in the second film) that killed the franchise (to say nothing of director Fred Dekker's career) stone dead. This one is just awful and I hate to say this about any movie, but the world might be a slightly better place if it had never been released.

1994

The tagline at the bottom says it all. An erotic thriller with a killer (as in an obvious twist) ending. It concerns a struggling actress who  is psychologically tortured by her acting coach.

They may have lost the rights to one film based on a 60's sitcom with The Addams Family, but they damn sure kept the one for Car 54, Where are You? Probably because nobody else wanted it. Slated for release in what  would guess was 1991, this was shot in 1990, re-shot a few times and finally crapped into theaters in early 1994. It was originally intended to be a musical but most of the music numbers were cut and in the end, it bombed massively.

Another refugee from 1991, this is an interesting sounding film noir piece with  a solid cast.

No, this isn't about a giant red dog (though it would have been an improvement). Rather, this is a very dark comedy that features Martin Short as a psychotic ten year old who torments his uncle, played by Charles Grodin. Another 1991 postponement, this was just a bizarre, misbegotten fiasco.

This romantic comedy (with an early role for Brad Pitt) was filmed in 1990 but not put out until the spring of 1994. The plot sounds convoluted, the cast is good and the film was ignored.

Coming of age drama set in the 60's (naturally) that was... Well, you can guess.

Lastly is another film that not only scored a Best Actress nomination at the Oscars, but frigging won as Jessica Lange got the nod for her turn as the mentally unbalanced wife of Tommy Lee Jones who plays a nuclear engineer in 1962. The film got some good reviews and Lange was praised. A nice end to a bad time for the company.

Next up, the last years of the studio, plus a happy ending.

1 comment:

  1. "Car 54, Where are You?" might be retitled "Car 54, Why are You?" "The Addams Family" was a great series and a good to great couple of movies ("Are your Girl Scout cookies made with real Girl Scouts?"), but "Car 54, Where are You?" was legendarily terrible even on TV. Who thought that this was a good idea?

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